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August 3, 2022 – The Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, the National Police of Ukraine, in partnership with UNFPA, launched a mobile application for women who have suffered from, or who are at risk of, domestic or gender-based violence.

One in five women in Ukraine has experienced domestic violence and, following the start of the full-scale war, the problem of violence against women has become more concealed.

The application enables women to contact the police by using an "SOS" button that automatically geolocates the survivor. This makes it easier for women who have a disability (such as a hearing impairment), or who do not have control over their personal life, or lack phone credit to call for help.

The application was presented with the support of the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.

“Our resistance to the Russian aggressor is not a reason to forget about non-military violence. There is no reason to devalue it or to think that there will be some special time to fight it later. On the contrary, this time is right now. Now, when all of us, the whole country, know how scary and painful it is to face an aggressor, we can understand the survivors of domestic violence more than ever before. And we have to help them. Now we all understand this better than ever. And after everything our country is going through, we will never tolerate violence again. Any violence in any form,” said Olena Zelenska. 

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

The external interface of the application is disguised as an ordinary application on the woman's phone. This allows the survivor to install and use the app without fear.

“Any violence, especially domestic violence, is unacceptable in a civilised country. Therefore, with the launch of the application, when a woman affected by violence can discreetly and quickly call the police, the systematic work of law enforcement officers together with human rights organisations and the focus on public safety will help many Ukrainian families overcome challenges and strengthen their family bonds,” said Denys Monastyrsky.

Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Denys Monastyrsky/Andriy Krepkyh.

The SOS button, useful information and contacts for assistance are stored in a hidden interface that only the owner of the phone has access to.

“Understanding that a call to 102 can be an additional trigger for the offender, we strive to protect the survivor as much as possible and make help accessible. For someone, our application may become a real lifesaver. Its main goal is to give survivors, most often women, the opportunity to seek help without calling 102, without having to speak to the operator, and without having to search for information on the Internet. Safe and fast,” said Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kateryna Pavlichenko.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kateryna Pavlichenko/Andriy Krepkyh.

Over the years, UNFPA worked with national and local partners to establish shelters, crisis rooms, daycare centres, career hubs and psychosocial support mobile teams across the country to provide assistance to survivors and people at risk of GBV. UNFPA supported the development of the mobile app to ensure that the most vulnerable women and girls have access to quality specialised support and immediate assistance.

“Domestic violence is a very complex issue and often women do not pay attention to the “little things” in relationships such as controlling the phone, checking personal messages or limiting communication. The application will be useful to those who have already found themselves in such a situation and need “quiet” solutions in search of help: without a call, without a search history in the browser, without the need to communicate with the operator,” said Jaime Nadal, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine. "We, at UNFPA, tell women and girls, men and boys that all forms of abuse are unacceptable.”

UNFPA Representative in Ukraine Jaime Nadal/Andriy Krepkyh.

The mobile application was developed with the financial support of the Government of the United Kingdom and is available for download in the Google Play Store and the App Store.

The name of the application is withheld to ensure the safety of the women who will use it. You can find out the name of the application and how to download it by sending a message to “Break the Circle” social media pages.